Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Does Anyone Wear Pantyhose Anymore?


Feb. 26, 2021 Vanessa Friedman, fashion director of The New York Times, takes a reader question. 

My daughter is getting married this spring. It will be a small daytime wedding in a park. I bought a knee-length wrap dress and neutral-colored low heels to wear, and though I have not bought or worn stockings in decades, I feel as if I should wear them with this outfit. My daughter is horrified and plans to go barelegged under her knee-length wedding dress. Is there a general “rule” about stockings? Some guidance, please. — Judith, Washington, D.C.

Pantyhose — or stockings or nylons or tights, which are not exactly the same things but are often used interchangeably — are one of those items of dress that seems innocuous and unimportant, but is actually a giant generational, occupational and cultural lightning rod. For women of a certain age, they are simply a part of girding yourself for the world; for others, they are a symbol of old-fashioned female repression and outmoded gender rules.

They’re not exactly a girdle or a crinoline, but they are a descendant of that genetic line: undergarments foisted on women to cover their bodies and make them “acceptable” to outsiders. They also, of course, help keep your legs warm and maybe prevent skirts from clinging, but that’s the trade-off.

Indeed, if you ever want to start a lively discussion during a lull in a dinner party, bring up the question of pantyhose. Even when they are invisible or skin-tone, no one is neutral on the subject.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in 2018
Wearing white hosiery.
Simply consider, if you will, the case of Megan Markle. Just after her wedding, when she was still a sign of change within the royal family and hopes were high for modernization, she appeared with her new in-laws at Prince Charles’s 70th birthday party in an ivory dress, matching hat and pale hose! The internet freaked out, with numerous viewers seeing in the tights a sign that she was being stifled, just as her legs were stifled.

Indeed, there were lots of rumors that tights were royal protocol, in part because the Duchess of Cambridge, like her grandmother-in-law, always wears them. Yet a few months after the tights appearance, Ms. Markle put an end to the talk, attending a charity performance in a tuxedo minidress and … no hose! Revolution, cheered the watching hordes.

Whatever the truth of the royal issue, the import was pretty clear: Stockings are not modern.

But then, many Gen X and Boomers stopped wearing pantyhose years ago, dismissing them as uncomfortable and easily ruined by runs. Most Millennial women have never even worn them, and thanks to more casual office wear, they don't need to in most offices. 

This fall into disrepute has probably been hastened by the pandemic, since pantyhose are not exactly a necessary part of one’s wardrobe when working from home. And indeed, even before remote work became a reality for many of us, most offices had abandoned the requirement (spoken or not) for pantyhose at work.

The exception being flight attendants. For many of them, pantyhose are still part of the uniform — see Kaley Cuoco in “The Flight Attendant” on HBO Max — in part because the compression in some pairs helps with circulation at altitude.

That said, designers love to reinvent and reassess previously rejected garments, so right on cue stockings have been on the rise in a variety of collections. Virginie Viard put sheer polka-dot versions on her runway for fall 2020; they were there at Saint Laurent in lace; and this week Kim Jones showed a sheer black pair at his Fendi show.

And know this: The sheer nylons and tights segment of the global hosiery market is predicted to grow by 2.1 percent over the next seven years. So whatever the politics, pantyhose are not going away. 

My Note: I am not sure that I agree.  Here in Florida, I almost never see Pantyhose. What do you think?   


  1. I love my pantyhose when the weather is right.
    But 90 degrees and humidity? Um, no.
    - J

    1. I agree - the tactile reaction in intoxicating. However in the Florida's summer a "no way"! .

  2. For me, wearing pantyhose on my legs is much the same as foundation on my face. It evens out complexion and neutralizes blemishes. Basically I think that my legs just look better in hose. Then again I am a woman of the boomer generation so that may color my attitudes. Overall I would say if you don't like hose don't wear them, but if you do go for it.

  3. I realize that today I may well be in the minority here but I am still a firm believer in hose, stockings or pantyhose, should be worn on some occasions like a wedding and a prom style dance where guys and dolls all get dressed up. Hose just adds a finishing touch. And yes when it is very humid and warm wearing hose might not be comfortable but also remember almost everyplace where these activities take place is air conditioned.
    My legs just look so much better when wearing hose and being a bit older than many here I need all the help I can get.
    And Rhoda your legs look great with or without hose, lucky girl.

  4. if you've live in Florida as long as I have PH are no problem going out at night from a car with A/C to a club ,or store with the same.
    But one factor not covered above:-my legs are nicely formed but blotchy. The PH
    hides it. Also I see a number of women with knobby legs,veins , etc and I marvel at how bad they look .

  5. I think that most folks lose sight of the fact that nylons - like jewelry, hats, fascinators etc. are simply a fashion "accessory" and as such, generally have different uses for different people. They can enhance an outfit by style or minimize one's defects by either concealing them or redirecting the eyes elsewhere. I have a large mark on one of my knees that I am very self-conscious of. nylons (or pants) can camouflage this to my satisfaction.

    Just as the right jewelry strategically located or makeup tailored to your needs or a sparkly belt used to direct/misdirect watching eyes enhances your appearance and minimizes your faults, nylons are simply another tool in the vanity toolbox to be used or not at your discretion. No teeth gnashing necessary. If one is happy in their body and thinks that they're perfect as is, more power to you - I definitely am not... 😉 YMMV


    1. Thanks! That's exactly what I think!

  6. I wear them frequently, as i think the wide variety of patterns and colors make for a fabulous accessory to many outfits. But I do understand why many women don't wear them. Unfortunately it's getting harder and harder to find them...even the L'eggs Sheer Energy that fill my hosiery drawer:(

    Ciao! Elise

  7. It really is situational. I can totally understand not wearing hose in situations with hot weather.

    I am Gen X. And in most situations I prefer to wear hose, mostly thigh highs. For me, I like the polish. And I like how my hose interact with my slip (yes I always wear those too). Everything is frictionless and my skirts hang better and flow.

    Most millennials just don't appreciate nylons and slips like us more mature ladies do.

  8. Pantyhose, tights, and stockings are an elegant attention getter!! Hopefully they will make a stylish come back.

  9. Unless I am wearing natural leather shoes designed to be worn barefoot, shoes can easily cause a blister, or my feet will stick to the insole (ugh) as I walk around in the shoes and my feet get slightly sweaty. Unless I'm wearing athletic shoes with socks, I've got to have something on my feet! Pantyhose are the easiest.

  10. Thanks to you all! I got my answer when and when not to wear pantyhose!